Okay, that's not entirely true: I did not spend my whole weekend topless in the water, but a part of me wishes I had because for the first time in longer than I can remember, I felt completely relaxed. I absolutely love what I do, but working for yourself requires, at least, in my experience, a pretty near constant vigilance. I have to always be checking out what's happening in the culture to see if there's anything I should be writing about, stay on top of the markets for erotica and sex writing to better help my students and further my own work, and simply keep up with my usual deadlines.
I've had more than a few moments in the past few months where I wondered whether even when things are going "well" if this pace is sustainable, or worth it. What does it mean to be doing exactly what you want and paying your bills but to never feel like you deserve to be off the clock?
I don't have the answer to that; it's a work in progress, like me. But I do know that when I was at a party this weekend, after teaching what wound up being more over six hours of writing workshops the day before, I decided to let all the stress wash away into that warm, magical pool. I had forgotten my bathing suit and was planning to just dip my feet in, but the water was warmer than I could have imagined. It felt perfect, and I wanted more. So I shucked my dress and bra and only kept my panties on because I thought there were rules about that (turns out, there weren't).
What's funny is that there's a pool where I live now, but I haven't so much as dipped my feet in it. This weekend I took the time to appreciate my surroundings, to savor the little things, whether it was an acai bowl that made me taste a bit of my Hawaiian memories for a moment, or navigating public transportation like a New Yorker rather than relying on Uber.
I don't think I need to be topless in a pool in Southern California to find those moments of sheer bliss; at least, I hope not, because I live in suburban New Jersey. But that's something I want to savor and return to when life gets stressful.
Here are a few photos I took over the past few days. And if you're in or near Chicago or want to travel there, the next CatalystCon will take place April 1-3, the first one in the Midwest. I am already working on my panel proposal! Get your proposals in by November 3rd.
I always swoon when I see palm trees.
My awesome CatalystCon panelists: Anaín Bjorkquist, me, Dixie De La Tour of Bawdy Storytelling and Gaby Dunn
I haven't gotten a chance to actually read more than two pages of young adult novel Dumplin' by Julie Murphy since downloading it last night before my redeye flight, but I love that Dolly Parton is a major plot point and it opens with this quote.